Friday, December 11, 2009

Who speaks the truth?

Genesis 2v16-17
And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
Genesis 3v1-7
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3v22
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Hang on. Who speaks the truth in this story, God or the serpent?

The thing the serpent says, "You will not surely die" and "your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil", is the thing that comes true. God acknowledges this in verse 22.

The thing God says, "when you eat of it you will surely die", does not happen. It appears (in context) to simply be a ruse to prevent the man and the woman from eating the fruit in the first place.

What gives?

Obviously, I'm happy to believe that this story is a fable, but how to literalist Christians explain this one?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christian Humanist

For no particularly good reason, I've recently been considering how I should label myself when it comes to 'religious' beliefs. I think (for now) I've settled on the phrase:

Christian Humanist

You see, claiming to be merely 'Christian' no longer means anything in our society. If you declare yourself to be a Christian, people either expect you to be:
  1. exactly like them, or
  2. in some way inferior to them, or
  3. a bit weird, but not interesting enough to find out more...
But fundamentally, people often don't think it has anything to do with how you live and has little to do with following the teachings and example of anyone called Christ.

By adding another label to it, particularly one that is often seen as an opposite stance (especially when prefixed with 'secular'), it will hopefully raise questions and provoke conversations.

And, of course, I believe that in many respects, Jesus himself was a humanist:

Luke 14v18-19 (my slight variation on the NIV translation; the original Greek has no mention of 'preaching' to the poor, its an interpolation)
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to be good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
If that's not humanist, I don't know what is...